Gardeners eager to get started

After a long winter, area residents are eager to get into the garden and start planting flowers and vegetables, said Phil Lowe, owner of Lowe’s Floral Center.

Lowe said customers have started coming in just to get a look at all of the brightly colored flowers in the greenhouse.

“They say, “I’m so sick of the snow!” said Lowe.

However, Lowe said that some gardeners might want to wait to plant flowers until the chance of an overnight frost has passed.

“If you’ve got the (planting) bug, plant some pots that you can take in (at night),” said Lowe.

Lowe said a good rule of thumb for when to plant flowers and vegetables is to wait until the apple trees and crab apple trees are flowering. However, this year’s extended winter may have put the apple trees off their usual schedule, he said.

Lowe said gardeners need to pay attention to four things to ensure a beautiful flower garden or vegetable patch. The first is well-drained soil. In this area in particular, soil is apt to be hard and have a lot of clay. People need to work the soil well and add organic matter every growing season.

The second is water. Lowe said gardeners should water a flower garden thoroughly during the first three weeks or so that it is in the ground. After the roots have had a chance to become well established in the soil, watering needs to be done a little less often.

The third important step is fertilizer. People sometimes complain to Lowe that gardens looked good for the first weeks and then stopped growing well. Lowe said that is often because the gardeners have forgotten to fertilize their flowers and vegetables.

Lowe said sunshine is the fourth important element. It is important for people to read the care instructions for the plant and to put the plants in the right location. A plant that needs shade will not do well in full sun and a plant that needs full sun will not grow well in the shade. Vegetable gardens always need full sun, he said. Lowe said some varieties of flowers now come in two different versions, one that requires full shade and one that grows in full sun.

“It’s really nice to have shade impatiens,” said Lowe, referring to one popular flower variety.

Lowe said people will have many varieties of flowers to choose from this year. Petunias now come in a shade of purple so dark it looks black, he said, and another popular variety of petunia has a green border around a pink flower.

People are interested in something a little different. Different types of grasses are popular in flower box arrangements, said Lowe.

“And there’s lots of interest in (growing) fresh herbs,” said Lowe.